Friday, September 17, 2010

Brayden McNabb In Buffalo

Brayden McNabb has NHL size and is rapidly acquiring the skills to be a big-league player. The Buffalo Sabres' prospect hopes to show that to the locals this winter.

McNabb, the Sabres' third-round draft pick in 2009, has stood out on the blue line this week during rookie camp. Of course, that's bound to happen when a player is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. It's numbers like those -- coupled with the defenseman's 57 points last season -- that make him a favorite to play for Team Canada when the world junior tournament comes to Buffalo in December.

"That's pretty cool that it's here," McNabb said Thursday in HSBC Arena. "If I happen to make it, it would be pretty good for fans to get a glimpse of me."

The 19-year-old feels he gave the Canada coaches and executives a nice glimpse during their team development camp in August.

"I thought I played well and made a good impression for them," McNabb said. "That's definitely a big goal of mine this year is to make that team, so that was really exciting to get invited to that camp, and hopefully I'll get invited to the second camp in December.

"I think [my chances are] pretty good. I played well, and it's all about the start of the season, I think, so I'm really focused on the first half of the year and playing good."

McNabb has made monumental jumps each season while playing for Kootenay of the Western Hockey League. He had two goals and 11 points his first season, improved to 10 goals and 36 points in 2008-09 and boasted 17 goals and 40 assists in 64 games last year.

"Coaches had a lot of trust in me and I played a lot, probably 30 minutes a game, so I had lots of opportunities," he said. "That was definitely a huge year for me."

McNabb, who also averaged 130 penalty minutes during the past two seasons, has developed a reputation for delivering huge hits in the middle of the ice.

"I'm a big guy and I like to be physical, and if I can catch a guy with his head down, I like that," he said.

McNabb was joined at Canada's session by fellow Sabres campers Zack Kassian, Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. Kassian's main focus is making the Sabres instead of Canada, while Pysyk and Gauthier-Leduc are long shots for the world juniors since they are only 18.

"It was my first camp there, so it was a great experience," said Gauthier-Leduc, the Sabres' third-round pick in June. "It would be nice [to play in Buffalo in the tournament], but this year would be tough with my 18 years old. But you never know, I'll do my best."